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What role do pedestrians play in distraction-related accidents?

We have previously written about the dangers of being a pedestrian in Oakland and neighboring cities. Many of the streets in the Bay Area were designed solely with automobile traffic in mind, thus making them unfriendly to pedestrians at best and deadly at worst.

Poorly timed lights and crosswalk signals, very wide streets and high speed limits are all factors that make pedestrian accidents more likely. Beyond that, however, there is also the component of individual responsibility. In a busy city like Oakland, for example, both drivers and pedestrians need to realize how their inattention could put themselves and others at risk.

Many studies have confirmed that distracted driving is dangerous, but what about distracted walking? Yes – it does exist, and it's a bigger problem than most people realize. According to one study, about a third of pedestrians don't even look up from their phones when crossing busy streets.

And texting is not the only issue. Talking on a cellphone can be dangerous for pedestrians, too. Researchers at Ohio State University studied car/pedestrian accident data from incidents that occurred between 2004 and 2010. Of the distraction-related injuries that occurred during this time, 69.5 percent were attributed to talking on a cellphone.

In any major city, interaction between automobiles and pedestrians is inevitable. And when distraction is thrown into this already chaotic mix, the risk of injuries and fatalities climbs sharply. That's why every traveler – driver and pedestrian alike – needs to understand that safety doesn't just happen. It must be a continual and conscious choice.

Source: The Atlantic, "Study: 'Distracted Walking' Causes More Injuries Than Distracted Driving," Lindsay Abrams, June 20, 2013

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